The governor appears to be doing everything he can to keep up transportation spending.
Madison — Gov. Scott Walker isn’t backing an increase in the gas tax and instead wants to rely on $1.3 billion in borrowing to fund transportation projects over the next two years.
Under the Republican governor’s plan, bonding for transportation would rise by about 30%, but the state’s overall borrowing would drop. That’s because Walker is recommending that the state delay construction of buildings that haven’t already gotten initial approval, including for the University of Wisconsin System.
I tend to agree with Speaker Vos.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) greeted the plan with deep skepticism.
“To continue to just borrow and spend isn’t fiscally responsible,” he said in a statement. “We will certainly be pushing for a permanent fix instead of just more bonding.”
The problem is that there is a substantial and structural difference between the amount of money being spent on transportation and the money being generated by transportation taxes for that purpose. Borrowing to fill the gap does not fix the problem. It merely maintains the status quo for a future legislature and governor to handle. This looks again like Walker looking to push hard and controversial decisions until after a potential presidential bid.
The only real solutions to transportation needs in this state are as simple as they are difficult. The state needs to either cut spending to match the current level of available funds, or find another revenue source to make the level of funding available match the level of spending being requested – or some combination thereof.
I, for one, advocate the former. The people who get to spend and receive the money, like the DOT and the road builders lobby, want the latter. Walker is trying to avoid the debate altogether.